Figurative and non-figurative use of body-part words in descriptions of emotions in Dalabon (Northern Australia)

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This article examines the status and functions of body-part words with respect to linguistic descriptions of emotions in Dalabon (Northern Australia). As in many languages in the world, words denoting invisible (internal) body-parts occur in figurative expressions. These expressions instantiate metaphors and metonymies inspired by non-observable somatic responses to emotions. In addition to this figurative pattern of usage, many more words for visible body-parts occur in expressions where they serve to produce more detailed descriptions of emotional behaviors — specifying which body-part is involved in a given emotional mani-festation. The relatively widespread use of body-part words in such descriptions of emotions fosters semantic extensions, where some body-part nouns gain emotional connotations. The article analyzes these descriptive functions of body-part nouns in Dalabon, and examines how they reinforce semantic associations between body-parts and emotions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-130
Number of pages33
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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